PREGAME REPORT | JANUARY 27, 2013
Tipoff: 6:30 p.m. PST | Staples Center | Los Angeles, CA | Game Notes »
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Perhaps the best thing about the Clippers’ gut-wrenching loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night is that they will get a chance to erase it from their memory when the teams meet again less than 24 hours later at Staples Center.
The Clippers (32-13) dropped their fourth consecutive game Saturday night in Portland as the Trail Blazers (22-21) closed out the game on a 10-0 scoring run to squeeze out a one-point victory.
The losing streak matches the Clippers’ longest of the season and has dropped the team from the top spot in the Western Conference to third place, 2.5 games behind the Oklahoma City Thunder and two back of San Antonio. As for the Trail Blazers, the victory helped keep them a half-game back of the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference behind Houston.
Chris Paul (bruised right kneecap) remains a game-time decision for the Clippers.
LAST TIME OUT
Trail Blazers 101, Clippers 100: The Clippers overcame a 14-point third-quarter deficit to take a 100-91 lead with 2:38 left in the game, but their offense ground to a halt and their defense collapsed as they allowed the hosts to score the final 10 points of the game.
Blake Griffin nearly missed a triple-double for the second time in his last four games. He scored 24 points on 10-for-19 shooting and dished out 10 assists to go along with eight rebounds. Jamal Crawford chipped in with 19 points off the bench but missed the go-ahead jumper as time expired.
For Portland, Nicolas Batum recorded his second career triple-double, both of them coming in the last three games. He scored 20 points, grabbed 10 boards and recorded a career-high 12 assists.
The Clippers held an early 15-9 lead but the Trail Blazers vaulted past them and led for most of the game, leading by as many as 14 points in the third quarter. But the Clippers chipped away at their deficit and took the lead on a pair of Crawford free throws. They expanded their lead to 100-91 with less than three minutes before the Clippers came up dry on their final six possessions, going 0-for-5 from the field and turning the ball over once.
As for the Trail Blazers, Wesley Matthews converted a three-point play to cut the Clippers lead to one and then J.J. Hickson came up with the final two points of the game on free throws after he drew a loose-ball foul on Griffin with 45 seconds left.
“We weren’t able to convert,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “We were scrambling and trying, but we didn’t come up with a couple defensive rebounds. We have to learn from it. It’s a tough pill to swallow. We had an opportunity to steal this one, and couldn’t convert down the stretch. We have these guys again tomorrow night and we have to bounce back. No excuses—we have to get going.”
Nicolas Batum vs. Blake Griffin, Part Two: It’s highly unlikely the two will be guarding each other, but they were both crucial to their team’s success in Saturday night’s game. With Paul missing his third consecutive game, and sixth in the last eight, Griffin stepped up with his passing, matching his career-high with the first 10-assist game by a Clipper in Paul’s absence to go along with his scoring.
Griffin has scored at least 24 points in three of the four games during the Clippers current skid. He managed just 12 points in the team’s loss against Phoenix after he suffered an ankle injury early in that game.
As for Batum, he went his first four seasons without recording a triple-double. He now has two in a week after putting on a masterful performance Saturday night. He scored seven of his 20 points in the final period, including a 3-pointer to briefly retake the lead midway through the quarter.
He is having the best season of his career this year, averaging 16.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists in 39 minutes a game, all career-highs.
TWO THINGS TO WATCH
Dying By The Three. During their current losing streak, the Clippers have allowed three of their four opponents to shoot at least 44% from beyond the arc and Saturday night was no different.
The Trail Blazers came in averaging eight makes per game from 3-point land but shooting just 33.5% on the season. Against the Clippers, they let it rain from the outside as they hit 11-of-25 from the outside, led by Batum and rookie sensation Damian Lillard who went a combined 8-for-16 on their 3-point attempts.
Homesick. The Clippers have struggled recently at Staples Center, losing two of their last three games at home, their only victory coming against the Washington Wizards. Sunday night’s game will give the Clippers an opportunity to leave the home fans with a pleasant memory since the team will head out on their annual “Grammy” road trip after the game and not return to Staples Center until Feb. 13.
The Clippers are 3-3 in the six games Paul has missed with a bruised right kneecap… This will be the third meeting of the season between the teams and first in Los Angeles. They split the first two meetings in Portland… The Clippers will travel to Minnesota on Jan. 30 to kick off their eight-game road trip… The Clippers are 4-6 in the last five “home-and-home” series with the same opponent in the regular season. They have not split the series in any of those matchups.
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